Sbarro Golf turbo - 1982

In the 80s, the Golf GTI was the affordable dream of many motorists. The Porsche 911 Turbo was far superior to the Golf, both in terms of power and price. One of Franco Sbarro's Swiss customers, G. Bernd, asked him to combine the two and create a machine that would stand out from the crowd

A Golf with a Porsche 911 Turbo engine (AutoJournal photo)

A Porsche engine

Replacing the original engine with a Porsche 6-cylinder, borrowed from the turbocharged 911 and developing 330 hp, the Golf can exceed 250 km/h. It is centrally located, in place of the rear seat. The dry sump has been redesigned. The gearbox is mechanical, with 5 speeds (compared with 4 on the donor Porsche). A little anecdote: it's a ZF DS25-type gearbox, the same used on the Ford GT40, among others, which Franco Sbarro is particularly fond of.
At the front, in the original engine compartment, Sbarro installed a 100-liter fuel tank, to achieve an ideal 50:50 weight distribution. To support the power, a sub-frame accommodates the self-supporting body, while a cradle holds the engine in a central position (and not cantilevered, as on the 911). You can imagine the enormous amount of work involved in such a transformation.
From the outside, in its lowered position, the Sbarro Golf turbo hides its game well. The only visible modifications are two side air intakes and wider tires. In short, this car is a wolf in sheep's clothing!

A spectacular opening system.

Metamorphosis of a mutant

The most visible and spectacular modification concerns the rear end, which lifts thanks to a hydraulic system. Funnily enough, an almost identical system had been developed by Sbarro for the little Pilcar-Carville electric car. Sbarro would later use this system on the Chrono 3.5.

With a certain sense of humor, Sbarro declared that this system was "very practical for working on the engine", and that "what's more, it's always nice to show off the raised posterior to the other cars you leave behind when the light turns green"! In any case, people who have seen this Sbarro-Golf have remembered this particular feature above all else, to the extent that photographs of the car in its lowered position are rare! The lift cylinders are powerful enough to allow the car to be driven with the rear raised.
Franco Sbarro at the wheel of the Golf Turbo, rear wheel up.
This Golf is an example of one of the facets of Sbarro's talent: fitting a big engine into a small car. The Sbarro Golf would later evolve into the Golf 300S, equipped with a Porsche 928 V8 engine. But that's another story...
In brief
1- A Golf with a Porsche 911 turbo engine
2- A hydraulic system raises the entire rear section
3- Unique model
Main sources
1- book "Automobiles extraordinaires" by Peter Vann and Gerald Asaria
2- AutoRétro 466 magazine, September 2021